Archive for Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Shawnee to impose harsher fines for littering

June 30, 2010

The city of Shawnee is redefining its laws on littering.

The Shawnee City Council on Monday approved an ordinance on littering, setting the maximum fine at $500. The ordinance addresses littering on public property, littering from a car, and dispersal of unsolicited written communication on private property.

The ordinance was necessary because the city adopted the 2008 Uniform Public Offense Code, which does not address littering. It makes littering illegal on any public property or body of water; any private property without the consent of the owner; and from a vehicle, in which the driver of the vehicle will be cited unless a passenger takes responsibility.

Items dispersed on private property as a means of advertisement are protected by the First Amendment. If the property owner notifies the distributor of the items that they don’t wish to receive them any more, the items will then be considered litter.

The ordinance identifies littering as a Class C offense, which means the fine could be up to $500 but is up to the prosecutor’s discretion.

Council member Jeff Vaught said he was concerned with how the law would be enforced. He said in cities with signage reminding drivers that the fine for littering was $100 or more, it seemed littering was less prevalent.

Karen Torline, the city’s senior prosecutor, said the city would have to enforce the law the same as any other ordinance, which means there would have to be proof of guilt in the littering, most likely a witness or police officer willing to testify.

In response to a question from Council member Michelle Distler, Torline said a resident could report littering from a vehicle if they get the car’s license plate number.

Council member Neal Sawyer said he thought perhaps the Council should set a minimum fine of $100 to help discourage littering. Torline said the least she would suggest as a fine was $25 plus court fees, which would make the total cost $50.

Council member Dan Pflumm said he agreed there was a difference between littering a cigarette butt and larger trash items, so he agreed with leaving it to the discretion of the prosecutor.

The ordinance was approved 7-1 with Sawyer voting in opposition.

In other business, the Council:

• Approved a contract for Phase II of the Clear Creek Recreational Trail for $1,222,88.45 to R.A. Knapp Construction, Kansas City, Kan. The project is funded with a $700,000 grant from the state, a $426,780 Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant and funds from the city’s Parks and Pipes sales tax, which must be used on parks or stormwater drainage projects. The Council also approved amendments to the contract with TranSystems for architectural and engineering services for the second phase.

• Approved a change order and final contract for $115,406.60 for the storm drainage improvements in the 6100 block of Noland.

• Approved revisions to the city policy for flashing beacons, crossing guards and pedestrian crosswalks to define how crosswalk locations are marked.

• Approved a special-use permit for Prairie Star Montessori Group Daycare, 5924 Monrovia, for up to 12 children.

• Had a public hearing and approved the vacation of public street rights-of-way in Shawnee Mission Park.

• Participated in a flag exchange with the county government.

• Heard the mayor proclaim July as Parks and Recreation Month in the city.

• Reappointed Nick Pflumm, Augie Bogina and Alan Willoughby to the Planning Commission, with terms expiring June 30, 2013.

• Reappointed Robert Prosser, Matt Zimmerman and Steve Goslin to the Board of Zoning Appeals, with terms expiring June 30, 2013.

• Reappointed Charles Zarter and John Hall to the Civil Service Commission, with terms expiring June 30, 2013.

• Ratified semimonthly claims totaling $2,519,608.

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